STORY BY ADAM ROGAN
Even though the Bulldogs were unable to pull off the three-game sweep in extra innings on Sunday, they still took two games on the road against Wichita State.
“It was really exciting to beat a team like Wichita State,” Laura Brewer said.
The series kicked off on March 28 at Wilkins Stadium in Wichita, Kansas.
Drake’s conference record improved to 7-2 in conference play on the season, as the 14-1 Bulldogs took on the 16-16 Shockers, who hoped to improve their win percentage to over .500 after a weekend of play against the Bulldogs.
The Shockers took the lead early as Cacy Williams hit a solo home run off of senior Rebekah Schmidt in the bottom of the first inning.
Getting rallies and scoring runs has been a struggle for the Bulldogs so far this year, but it wasn’t a problem on Saturday as the Bulldogs responded with two runs in both the third and fourth inning thanks to a home run from freshman Kelsey Wright and a rally of hits from Hayley Nybo, Kailee Smith, Sarah Ryan and Brewer.
“We had a good team effort and everyone stepped up when they needed to,” Brewer said.
Two home runs in the fifth inning put the Shockers back on top, taking a 5-4 lead.
A scoreless sixth left the Bulldogs in need of at least one run in the seventh inning to stay alive.
That run came quickly, as Nybo led the inning off with a solo home run to tie the game, her sixth of the season.
Schmidt followed with a single, going three-for-three in the game, to give the Bulldogs a chance at regaining the lead. Sophomore Maddie Hooyman came in to pinch-run and was able to advance to third on a wild pitch and a sacrifice from Smith. With one-out, pinch-hitter Megan Sowa grounded out, but gave Hooyman the chance to score and put the Bulldogs on top 6-5.
Schmidt completed the game with three of her six strikeouts on the day in the bottom of the seventh inning, two of those strikeouts coming with a runner in scoring position.
The second game of the doubleheader featured a pitcher’s duel between Drake freshman Nicole Newman and Wichita State sophomore Jenni Brooks.
The Bulldogs broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning when Brewer launched her first of two home runs on the day.
The Shockers scored an unearned run in the bottom of the inning, but that would be the only time they would cross the plate that afternoon.
Newman was dominant on the mound, pitching a complete game with three hits, two walks and six strikeouts.
Two runs came in the top of the fifth before Brewer added an insurance run in the game’s final inning, leading to a final score of Drake: 4 Wichita State: 1.
“We played really tough,” Schmidt said.
The third game of the series was the most tightly fought in the series, and the first extra-inning game for the Bulldogs this season.
Schmidt started the game on the mound before being pulled with two outs in the fifth inning after surrendering three runs on six hits. Newman came in for relief and was able to get the
Bulldogs out of a jam, leaving the score tied at three thanks to home runs from Nybo and Schmidt in the fourth inning.
Neither team was able to score in the sixth or seventh inning, pushing the game into an eighth frame.
With one out in the bottom of the inning Newman stood on the mound with bases loaded, needing to retire the next two batters to keep the Bulldogs’ hopes alive.
Junior infielder Liz Broyles snatched that hope away as she drilled a line drive into right field for her fifth hit of the day, scoring Ashley Johnson for a walk-off single. Broyles five made up half of her team’s 10 hits on the day, and was responsible for all of her team’s runs with four RBIs on the day.
After the weekend the Bulldogs improved their record to 16-12 overall and are 7-2 in conference play, the best team in the Missouri Valley Conference in both categories.
“I think right now we need to trust the process that we have and hold the team accountable because that will only push us to get better,” Wright said. “We need to be a little more consistent by linking hits together.”
The Bulldogs will take on the University of Iowa tonight at home at Ron Buel Field before they face conference rivals Loyola University in a three-game series this weekend, two games on Friday and one on Saturday.